By GLEE JALEA
June 05, 2019
An alleged money race for the House speakership could ramp up significantly, with one of the aspirants raising the possibility of vote offers going well beyond the P1 million earlier reported.
“I heard yesterday na magiging P7 million pa yan, pero dapat wala nang ganun (I heard yesterday that this would reach P7 million, but this should not be),” Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales told reporters.
“Sana wala nang laban, pag-usapan na lang natin kasi maraming magiging damages (I hope there will no longer be a race; let’s just talk about it because [vote-buying] will cause much damage),” he added.
A total of 153 votes need to be secured in the 304-man House of Representatives to become speaker, which means that at P7 million, an aspirant would have to shell out P1.07 billion.
Gonzales, who is the national deputy campaign manager of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, is among those being fielded by the ruling party. The others are Marinduque Rep.
Lord Allan Velasco and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, its secretary general.
Other top contenders are Leyte Representative-elect Martin Romualdez, who has reportedly secured 153 signatures through a manifesto of support, and Taguig Representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano, former Foreign secretary.
Alvarez last week claimed that two of his fellow speaker aspirants had been offering P500,000 to P1 million for their colleagues’ votes.
Gonzales said the accusation could be true and added that accepting the money was a blot on legislators’ reputations.
“Sabi ko nga palagi, pag may usok, may apoy… I think that’s not worth it. Palagay ko nasisira pagkatao namin (As I always say, when there is smoke, there is fire… I think that’s not worth it. It think it is ruining us),” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to endorse a candidate for the speakership and Gonzales said his silence could encourage vote-buying.
“’Pag sinasabing ‘di nangingialam ang Pangulo, mga negosyante na ang papasok diyan (When the President says that he will not meddle with the speakership, potential funders will enter the scenario).”
The next House Speaker, who will replace Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, will be elected on July 22 when the 18th Congress formally convenes.
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